Judging from some pretty spectacular video clips and photos, it's little short of a miracle no one was killed in the December 3 fire that destroyed The Arbors of Las Colinas apartment complex in Irving. As it was, only one resident was taken to the hospital after falling from a third-story window, while 56 people lost their homes and everything in them. Total losses were estimated at $1.2 million.
It didn't take investigators all that long to determine that the fire had started in Apartment 1024, nor did it take them long to get a confession from Mohsin Zia, the 24-year-old man who lived there. He'd been trying to make K2, he told them, an illegal type of synthetic marijuana. Problem was, he wasn't a very skilled cook.
Zia, according to court documents, looked up instructions on the Internet and began mixing the marshmallow leaf, acetone, and watermelon-flavor concentrate. He'd only just begun when, apparently due to carelessness and general stupidity, a lit piece of quick-igniting coal landed in the mixture.
The acetone did what acetone does and ignited in spectacular fashion, first engulfing Zia, who suffered second- and third-degree burns, then the apartment, then the entire complex. He was charged the next month with two counts of arson. His criminal case is ongoing.
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Meanwhile, two of his neighbors, Oliver Medina and Richard Simpson, have filed a lawsuit. They might have sued Zia, but attorney Thomas Shaw writes in the petition that Zia is "judgment-proof," which is legal speak for "absolutely broke." Instead, they're targeting the apartment complex, saying it never should have let Zia live there.
According to the lawsuit, lease agreements at The Arbors of Las Colinas required tenants to have a $100,000 in liability coverage. Medina and Simpson had such liability policies, but Zia, they allege, let his lapse. So, when the fire came through, they were out of luck. They say it was the apartment's job to make him carry the insurance or kick him out.
How much they would have gotten from Zia if he hadn't let his policy lapse is unclear, but it couldn't have been much. Divide $100,000 by 56 people who lost everything, and what's left is a pittance.